Investing in education
Written by: Brenda Johnson
When Toni Sullivan graduated from UVSC with an associate degree in business management in 1978, her success was due in no small part to an academic scholarship that she received. "My mother was raising us alone," Toni said. "The scholarship I received made it easier to get through school. It helped me so much, and I thought 'someday, that's something I need to give back.'"
Toni and her husband, Don, who graduated from UVSC with an associate degree in nursing, established the Don and Toni Sullivan Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2004—a scholarship that benefits UVSC students studying business and nursing. The Sullivans, who own a business called A-Plus Home Care and Hospice, have been involved with UVSC for many years. Toni has served on the UVSC Alumni Board and the UVSC Foundation Board and was on the School of Business Advisory Council. Toni and Don also sponsor an alumni golf tournament team.
"At a certain point," said Toni, "we realized the best thing we could do for the future of the institution was to help others get their education. And the best way to do that is through this scholarship."
The Sullivans were originally going to provide the scholarship exclusively for students in UVSC's nursing program. They realized, however, that Toni's degree in business was just as beneficial as Don's experience in nursing, and decided to aid students in both areas. The scholarship is given to nursing and business students on alternating school years, and is the first of its kind in that respect.
For the 2007-08 school year, the scholarship was awarded to Pauline Hill, a nursing student from Orem. A wife and mother of five children ages 13 to 26, Hill began her schooling as a non-traditional student at UVSC five years ago. She chose to attend UVSC because of its location close to her home and because she felt that returning to school would be more comfortable and less daunting than a larger university. Pauline hopes to receive her degree in nursing in December and then go to work somewhere local. Although she hasn't decided where she's going to pursue employment after graduation, she enjoys the excitement of working as a surgical nurse or working in the Emergency Room.
Pauline waited until most of her children were grown and her last child was in school full time to continue her own education. "Suddenly I had free time during the day," she said. "I wanted to have something to do myself when all of my children were gone. I like to help people, and I've wanted to be a nurse since I was 16. I've just been drawn to it."
The Don and Toni Sullivan Endowed Scholarship is helping her realize her dream of helping others. "It came at the perfect time, "she said. Pauline's husband was recently unemployed, and continuing with her schooling would not have been possible without going into debt with student loans.
But for Pauline, the scholarship is more than just monetary aid.
"I think there's a huge sense of accomplishment in being selected for a scholarship," said Toni. She remembers the sense of accomplishment she felt when she relieved her own academic scholarship, and the rewarding feeling of having someone who supported her efforts and believed in her. "Somebody cared for me who didn't even know me. It's nice to be able to give that back and invest in someone else's future."
The scholarship, Toni hopes, is a way to inspire students and show them if they perform well and work hard, people will take notice and their efforts will be rewarded. She also hopes it will push students to continue to work hard and stay committed to their education and reaching their goals. "A scholarship is a way to say that I believe in you and your commitment," she said. "I think when we say that to each other, when we support each other, we can reach greater heights."
The Sullivans feel as though they've benefited from giving the scholarship just as much as any of the recipients have. They have the opportunity to meet the recipients of the scholarship in the spring, and look forward to getting to know the students they have invested in—students like Pauline Hill, who, because of the Sullivan's donation, are now able to more easily make life-long dreams come true. "This is such a great opportunity," said Pauline. "It's been a blessing in my life."